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NZ politics in 2021: The big issues on which the year will hinge

To complete our series looking back at 2020 and gazing ahead to 2021, we asked our big political commentary brains to nominate the three issues that will loom large in the year to come. 

Read more from our political year in review here.

Alex Braae

  1. Who owns the water infrastructure? And more importantly, will Councils cede ownership of the massive deficits and disrepair to central government, along with control over them?   
  2. How far away we are from the rest of the world. Both in a good way and a bad way, we’re very distant, but supply chain issues are almost certain to become more pronounced. 
  3. Rhetoric vs reality on climate change. The world is starting to notice the gap here, and the government risks losing international credibility on a matter that requires global cooperation. 

Linda Clark

  1. Housing.
  2. Embedded inequality.
  3. Tax – will Ardern be convinced to give up on her no wealth tax pledge? Best bet: she won’t.

Bronwyn Hayward

  1. Intergenerational inequality (in housing, climate and poverty).
  2. Health recovery.
  3. Finding a way to achieve more transformative politics.

Liam Hehir

  1. The speed with which coronavirus vaccinations are rolled out in New Zealand compared to the rest of the world.
  2. Censorship as the government moves to regulate the expression of disreputable political opinions
  3. Can Jacinda Ardern tame the housing crisis?

Andrew Geddis

  1. Housing (once again!)
  2. Water rights, and in particular those of Māori.
  3. “Hate speech” legislation, because it’s just too, too tempting a wedge issue.

Lara Greaves

  1. Covid-19: policy issues relating to travel bubbles, vaccinations, the economy, and so on.
  2. Honouring Te Tiriti o Waitangi and partnership with Māori. Māori wards, the independent Māori health authority, and Ihumātao need sorting out fairly quickly.
  3. Generally, continued talk about Labour’s “political capital” or “mandate” and whether they will “spend” or “invest” it.

Leonie Hayden

  1. Restructuring Ministry for Children, Corrections, Health and any other ministry where Māori are better equipped to create equitable outcomes for Māori than the state is. 
  2. The housing boom and Covid recession creating a level of poverty we’ve never seen before 
  3. Act stirring up shit.

Stephen Jacobi

  1. Release from Covid.
  2. Economic recovery.
  3. Infrastructure – the whole gamut – housing, roads, water.

Annabelle Lee-Mather

  1. Housing.
  2. Borders.
  3. Boomers (but it should be vulnerable whānau).

Danyl Mclauchlan

  1. Covid. 
  2. Housing. 
  3. The National Party continuing to tear itself apart. 

Laura O’Connell Rapira

  1. Housing.
  2. Tax.
  3. Freshwater, mental health, the prevention and ending of violence, the reform of Oranga Tamariki, liveable incomes and not just a living wage.

Trish Sherson

  1. Opening the border.
  2. Doing something transformational.
  3. Doing something.




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